"The current levels of investor complacency are more usually associated with late stage bull markets rather than the beginning of new ones. Of course, if you think about it, this only makes sense if you refer back to the investor psychology chart above. The point here is simple. The combined levels of bullish optimism, lack of concern about a possible market correction (don't worry the Fed has the markets back), and rising levels of leverage in markets provide the "ingredients" for a more severe market correction. However, it is important to understand that these ingredients by themselves are inert. It is because they are inert that they are quickly dismissed under the guise that 'this time is different.' Like a thermite reaction, when these relatively inert ingredients are ignited by a catalyst they will burn extremely hot. Unfortunately, there is no way to know exactly what that catalyst will be or when it will occur. The problem for individuals is that they are trapped by the combustion an unable to extract themselves in time."
The Herbalife drama - perhaps the biggest billionaire pissing contest of 2013 - just got excting again, following FT news that a criminal probe has been launched into Herbalife. "The US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating Herbalife, the multi-level marketing company that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has alleged is a pyramid scheme, according to people familiar with the matter. The criminal investigation by the FBI and US attorney’s office in Manhattan raises the stakes for Herbalife, which is already facing civil inquiries from multiple government agencies that are looking into the Los Angeles-based company and its associated network of independent distributors."
- Sensitive Market Data Leaked After Government Phone Call (WSJ)
- This is a actual Bloomberg headline: China Fake Data to Skew More Export Numbers (BBG)
- This is another actual BBG headline: U.S. as Global Growth Engine Putt-Putts Instead of Purring (BBG)
- Ukraine wants to buy European gas to boost energy security (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Profit Falls 19% on Trading, Mortgage Declines (BBG)
- Record Europe Dividends Keep $2.8 Trillion From Factories (BBG)
- Why is Goldman shutting down Sigma X: SEC eyes test that may lead to shift away from 'dark pools' (Reuters)
- Ebola Outbreak Empties Hotels as West Africa Borders Closed (BBG)
- Australian PM says searchers confident of position of MH370's black boxes (Reuters)
- Gross Says El-Erian Should Explain Reason for Exit (BBG)
"Everybody loves this market," jokes a hursuit Carl Icahn fresh from his eBay exigencies, "everybody is buying this and buying that... we have a lot of hedges on." However, Icahn - who knows better than most just how one can financially engineer a company - says "there is reason to be cautious... a lot of the earnings are sort of artificial." While proclaiming that the Fed "did a great job in saving the economy," Icahn laughs that "with these low interest rates it's easy to fake earnings... and I don't think that can continue forever." Simply put, the billionaire activist investors concludes, you can't print money forever and "that there will be a major correction."
Citi's credit strategy team warns, for non-financial corporations - fundamentals have turned. Low interest rates hae helped keep debt service burdens low but, as they suggest, releveraging tends to sneak up on you. Leverage is as high as its ever been outside recession. This may not be a problem today, or tomorrow, but the leverage clock is ticking... and credit markets have no room for downside surprises (and, as we have vociferously explains, if credit spreads rise as the credit cycle 'cycles' then the underpinning for the entire buyback/dividend driven 'fudge' for stock valuations is removed)... and risks seem far higher in the US (than Europe) going forward. In the end we know this is unsustainable - the question is when (in 2007 it lasted 10 months or so...) but things change very quickly once collateral chains start to shrink. Perhaps this is why Carl iCahn called the top - because he knows the ability to re-leverage (his bread and butter trade) is over...
We all know what will eventually unfold: another collapse, this one even worse than that of 2008. Until then, the fraud and fiction will continue. Everyone with a vested interest in stocks moving up will do everything they can to perpetuate this.
- Putin Threatened With More Sanctions as Russia Out of G-8 (BBG)
- China Faces ‘Mini Crisis’ on Debt Defaults, Ex-PBOC Adviser Says (BBG)
- Don't laugh too hard: Obama to propose ending NSA bulk collection of phone records (Reuters)
- SEC Is Probing Dealings by Banks and Companies in Loan Securities (WSJ)
- Japan GPIF asset review not aimed at supporting domestic stocks (Reuters)
- Chinese families clash with police, slam Malaysia over lost plane (Reuters)
- Russian Capital Flight Surges in First Quarter, Fueled by Ukraine Crisis (WSJ)
- Democrats ditch Nate Silver after data whiz predicts dismal midterm outcome (DN)
- China’s Urbanization Loses Momentum as Growth Slows (BBG)
Sprinkled in between Herbalife promotion and eBay board decimation, CNBC's favorite crowd-pleaser Carl Icahn offered a few pearls of wisdom that the TV anchors were un-prepared for:
- *ICAHN SEES MAJOR SELL DOWN OF MARKET COMING
- *ICAHN CALLS MARKET ARTIFICIAL BECAUSE OF FED POLICY
Of course, Icahn did not specify the timing which provided just enough cover for the talking heads to confirm their "but stocks are a buy" perspective. We wonder whether the "sell-down" is as big a "no-brainer" as many of Carl's other ideas.
For the answer of which firm is responsible, and has the largest number of current and former tenants occupying the building located at 15 CPW which we profiled before, and which Bloomberg TV defines as the "world's most powerful address" - a location whose residents control nearly half a trillion in assets under management - fast forward to 3:20 in the clip below. Hint: listen for the "dog whistle."
- Possible debris off Australia a 'credible lead' for missing Malaysia jet (Reuters)
- Maldives and Afghanistan: Theories Blossom for Airliner (BBG)
- Ukraine Military Concedes on Crimea as Russia Takes Hold (BBG)
- Asia Stocks Drop on Fed; H-Share Index Enters Bear Market (BBG)
- Scientists say destructive solar blasts narrowly missed Earth in 2012 (Reuters)
- GM’s Ignition Victims Need Help From Bankruptcy Judge (BBG)
- U.S. Alleges Inside Traders Used Spycraft, Ate Evidence (WSJ)
- God Meets Profit in Obama Contraceptive Rule Court Case (BBG)
- Ukraine anxiety triggers flight to safety, stocks tumble (Reuters)
- Woodrow Wilson’s Ukraine Failure Foreshadows West’s Dilemmas (BBG)
- Fortress Executives Join Peers Selling Stock After Rally (BBG)
- 303 Deaths Seen in G.M. Cars With Failed Air Bags (NYT)
- Putin Deports Executives for Speeding as Sanctions Loom (BBG)
- Russia blocks internet sites of Putin critics (Reuters)
- China Bond Risk Exceeds Ireland as Defaults Unavoidable (BBG)
- China H-Shares Post Biggest Weekly Drop Since October (BBG)
- Surge in Rail Shipments of Oil Sidetracks Other Industries (WSJ)
- Blackstone’s Home Buying Binge Ends as Prices Surge (BBG)
HERBALIFE RECEIVED TODAY A CIVIL INVESTIGATIVE DEMAND FROM FTC
HERBALIFE SAYS IT'S CONFIDENT IT'S IN COMPLIANCE
HERBALIFE COMMENTS ON FTC PROBE, WELCOME INQUIRY
HERBALIFE WON'T FURTHER COMMENT UNTIL MATERIAL DEVELOPMENTS
- Malaysia Says Stolen Passport User Had No Links to Terror Groups (BBG)
- Malaysia military tracked missing plane to west coast (Reuters)
- Freescale loss in Malaysia tragedy leads to travel policy questions (Reuters)
- Top German body calls for QE blitz to avert deflation trap in Europe (Telegraph)
- Firms Suffer 23% Drop in Asia Fees Amid Search for Cash (BBG)
- Putin Dismisses U.S. Proposal on Ukraine (WSJ)
- Lenovo says China strike an IBM matter, but it won't cut wages (Reuters)
- Congress to Investigate GM Recall (WSJ)
- New hedge funds face life or death battle for funding (FT)
- Muni Bond Costs Hit Investors in Wallet (WSJ)
- BOJ keeps stimulus in place, cuts view on exports in warning sign (Reuters)
- ECB Homes In on Risky Assets as Inspectors Fan Out Across Europe (BBG)
- Snowden: "The Constitution was violated" (Reuters)
Retweets are not endorsements... but they really usually are. Which is the reason some are wondering just why did the FTC show a specific appreciation of this particular tweet sent out yesterday by a user who appears to have a bone to pick with Herbalife, Nu Skin and other alleged pyramid schemes.
#NCPW2014 Why have you not shut down pyramid schemes like Herbalife, Nu Skin and others? What is the FTC waiting for?
— AS (@ArbitrageIt) March 4, 2014
If they’re bailing on the market… what are the odds trouble is approaching?